Real Ale Break in Derby, with Perfect Pub Crawl

British pubs may be closing at the rate of 27 a week, but Derby is at the forefront of a real ale revival.

Dubbed the “Beer Capital of Britain”, Derby is able to boast the largest number of real ales per head of population, more than 120 real ale pubs, several micro-breweries, an annual CAMRA Beer Festivals -not to mention, Britain’s first and only “Beer King”, Les Baynton.

A few years ago, Lonely Planet magazine listed Derby in its top ten listing of the world’s “must see attractions” for its real ale trail – an accolade which came just a couple of months after the Good Beer Guide named it The First City for Beer, with the ‘Perfect Pub Crawl’ in Britain.

Travel writer Bert Archer, visiting for the Toronto Globe & Mail subsequently told his readers “why you want to go pubbing in Derby, rather than London”!

It’s a USP for the city that’s already gained world-wide recognition; and The Brunswick Inn (the first railwaymen’s hostelry in the world) and Ye Olde Dolphin (dating back to 1530) are just a couple of the pubs in the city worth including on any real ale pub crawl of Derby.

Elsewhere, The Exeter Arms – a short stroll across the river from Derby’s landmark arts centre, QUAD is owned by former AntiPasti punk rock band member Martin Roper.  It’s arguably one of the first pubs to offer its guests a full “British Tapas” alongside its carefully kept rack of real ales.

Less than five minutes walk away, in the Cathedral Quarter, another slumbering giant is being brought back to life.  Having shut up shop several years ago, The Old Bell Hotel in Saddler Gate has now come under the control of Paul Hurst, who has already proved his credentials in Derby with the Black Rock Grill, and who is now setting about breathing new life into one of the most historic properties in the city.  A former coaching inn, it’s also renowned world-wide for having one of the most haunted rooms anywhere on the planet.  Like the rest of this Grade II listed property, the attic is currently being renovated, and – once that is ready – will be ready to host guests who don’t mind sharing their room with an odd spirit (or two).

VisitDerby works had to make it easy for visitors to follow a real ale trail on a tour of the city:

Local brewing company Derventio also offers tasting tours, and “be a brewer for the day” experiences:

Full details of accommodation in the city of Derby can be found at

Nearby Keddleston Country House Hotel (, meanwhile – which opened in 2015 – is owned by the Derby Brewing Company.

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